How to Change the Pick-Up Coil in a Ford 302

by Lee Sallings

The pick-up coil in your Ford 302 provides a trigger signal for the ignition system that the ignition module uses to fire the ignition coil. As the teeth of the wheel on the distributor's shaft pass the metal core of the pick-up coil, the magnetic field collapses and a voltage is induced in the pick-up coil's windings. This signal is processed by the ignition module and voltage to the primary side of the coil is switched off. This causes a spark to be carried to the distributor and the individual spark plugs.

Step 1

Unclip the distributor cap from the top of the distributor on the front of the intake manifold. Bump the engine (momentarily turn the ignition key to start and then back to run) until the rotor on top of the distributor is pointed at the center of the intake manifold. Lift the rotor off the distributor shaft. Unplug the ignition module's electrical connector.

Step 2

Make a mark on the intake manifold with the paint pen that indicates where the rotor is pointing. This will simplify re-installation of the distributor. Make another mark on the distributor base and the manifold to indicate the position of the distributor in the engine.

Step 3

Remove the distributor hold-down bolt and bracket at the base of the distributor using a 13 mm or 1/2-inch (depending on year model) distributor wrench. Pull the distributor straight up, out of the engine, until it is clear of the manifold. Place the distributor on a work surface.

Step 4

Remove the armature from the top of the distributor shaft using a 1/4-inch nut driver to remove the two screws that attach it to the shaft. Drive out the roll pin that secures the distributor drive gear to the bottom of the distributor shaft using a hammer and roll pin punch. Slide the gear off the shaft and pull the shaft from the distributor.

Step 5

Unbolt the electrical connector of the pick-up coil from the distributor housing using a 1/4-inch nut driver to remove the retaining bolt and unplugging it from the ignition module. Remove the pick-up coil from the distributor by using a pick or snap-ring pliers to remove the retaining clip on top of the pick-up coil and lifting the coil out of the housing.

Step 6

Slide the new pick-up coil onto the housing and re-install the retaining clip. Plug the electrical connector into the module and bolt it to the housing. Reinstall the shaft into the housing. Install the drive gear onto the shaft and secure it in place with a new roll pin. Use the roll pin punch and a hammer to drive the pin into place. Reinstall the armature and rotor.

Step 7

Reinstall the distributor, taking care to line up the rotor and distributor housing alignment marks made in Step 2. Secure the distributor in the engine using the hold-down bracket and bolt using the distributor wrench to tighten the bolt snugly.

Step 8

Start the engine. Rotate the distributor until the idle speed stabilizes and the engine runs as smoothly as possible. Reset the ignition timing according to the instructions in the service manual for the model and year of your Mustang.

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